What are the differences between formal and informal groups

What are the differences between formal and informal groups?

A formal group is a collection of persons, who came together for achieving a specified goal. They are always created with intent to fulfill some official requirement. Formation of the group is done by the management.

Informal groups are created naturally, within the organization, due to social and psychological forces are known as Informal groups. Under this group, the employees of the organization, they enter into groups, without the approval of the management to satisfy their social needs on the job.

Differences between formal and informal groups

Formal groups are formed by the management of the organization for accomplishing a specific task is. Informal groups are formed by the employees themselves as per their likes and prejudices

The formal groups are deliberately created by the organization, whereas the informal groups are established voluntarily.

The formal groups are big in size as compared to an informal group. Moreover, there can be sub-groups in a single formal group.

The structure of a formal group is designed in a hierarchical manner while the informal group lacks structure or says it has no structure.

In a formal group, the position of a member defines its importance in the group, but in an informal group, every member is as important as any other member.

In a formal group, the relationship between the members is professional, they gather just to accomplish the task allotted to them. On the other hand, in an informal group, there is a personal relationship between members, they share their opinions, experiences, problems, information with each other.

In a formal group, the flow of communication is restricted due to the unity of command. In contrast to an informal group, the flow of communication stretches in all directions; there is no such restriction.

Why should managers pay attention to informal groups?

Managers are supposed to a lot of attention to informal groups in the organization. This is because the manager is required gain an understanding where those individuals decided to be part of the informal group and not the formal group. Usually informal groups have a lot of effect on productivity and beef up morality amongst the employees in the organization. When a manager pay attention to these groups will get more challenges and this will result to their success.

Managers are supposed to apply what he/she learned from the informal groups to formal groups. In doing this, organization will promote their chances of success.


Chao, G. T., Walz, P., & Gardner, P. D. (1992). Formal and informal mentorships: A comparison on mentoring functions and contrast with nonmentored counterparts. Personnel psychology, 45(3), 619-636.

Hofstein, A., & Rosenfeld, S. (1996). Bridging the gap between formal and informal science learning.

Ragins, B. R., & Cotton, J. L. (1999). Mentor functions and outcomes: A comparison of men and women in formal and informal mentoring relationships. Journal of applied psychology, 84(4), 529.